…when the writers crawl out of our caves and blow our trumpets like we’re our own mums. Yes, that means it’s time for an awards eligibility post!
Here’s what I published this year.
The Word, adult SF novel (New Welsh Rarebyte)
I follow Jonno inside, like I follow him everywhere, and secure the door behind us. Then I wedge a kitchen chair under the handle to be sure. The activity helps, keeps me from listening too anxiously to the quiet, and I roam from room to room closing curtains, filling our water bottles, assessing the furniture for what might be most effectively stacked against the doors. Jonno stands at the kitchen table, leaning forward on flat palms, motionless. When I open my mouth to ask if he’s planning on helping me out anytime soon, he holds up a hand for silence.
“Listen,” he says. “They’re coming.”
It’s a distant, mechanical rumble. Could be any kind of heavy machinery, from this far away.
We both know better. And as it approaches, moment by moment, even my reluctant ears detect the high, thin wail of feedback from a cliff-face of speakers, the anticipatory crackle of enough amplifiers to blow open your skull.
“Thawing”, short story, Wyldblood Magazine Issue 1 (Jan 2021)
The ice princess watched over us from her plinth in the city square, crystalline, inviolate, and perfect.
The first time I saw her, I was a child, tugging restlessly at my father’s hand as we waited for Mother to finish up her business in the city. The day had dragged on longer than expected, forcing him to spend money on hot tea and handcakes from the vendors who lined the square. My ears were cold and I was tired of walking, grizzling and complaining endlessly—until the clouds parted and allowed through a pale beam of winter sun that glittered on her face. I stopped, transfixed, and Father hoisted me into his arms, glad of the distraction. “Did I tell you the story of Princess Eira?” he said. “No? Well, it’s about time I did.”
Obviously, I’d love you to buy a copy and support the magazine, but I know a lot of us are counting the pennies at this time of year. You can also read “Thawing” by signing up for my newsletter here!
“Diamonds and Pearls”, short story, Fireside (Feb 2021)
Diamonds are two a penny, but everybody wants them anyway.
At first, Osian thinks it’s because they hurt. Every time he speaks a new word in the common tongue and a diamond comes up, it feels like dying, like its hard angles will tear his throat open. Something you have to suffer for like that, you hold on to. You want to believe it’s worth something.
“Osteography”, short story, Cossmass Infinities (May 2021)
Our messenger speeds out of town with the first grey of dawn, and in the evening, Shardon sends us his bones.
His sister empties them onto my table in dry-eyed silence. They’re clean and golden-brown as though stained by years underground, a burnished shine beneath the alien head of the operating light.
“You’re sure it’s him?” I ask.
She fingers an old callus, a slight overlap of fractured ends. “What bone is this?”
“The radius,” I say. Her face stays blank. “In the forearm. This would have been just above the wrist.”
“He broke it when we were children. Fell out of a tree.”
“Bluebell Song”, short story, Luna Station Quarterly (Sep 2021)
Old Woman Achan goes out to the woods before dawn and sits amid the undergrowth and fills her ears with the song of the bluebells. To a stranger it would look like a pleasure-jaunt, and an ill-advised one too, but Achan chooses her place carefully. She listens with intent. When she closes her eyes, she imagines she hears the bluebells move, craning their bright heads toward her. Of course, when she opens them again, nothing has changed. The flowers hang delicate as raindrops from their stems. Looking at them, Achan thinks a single touch might send them tumbling to the ground. Each petal curls back neatly from the mouth of the flower, leaving them open in endless song.